Jeff Ellison is among the three generations of Thorold soccer players whose lives were shaped by Archie Fiorillo and his family.
“Sometimes, you meet a family that’s amazing,” Ellison told ThoroldNews.
And the Fiorillo family is one of them.
Mary Fiorillo, Archie’s wife, and their daughters, Joanne Volz and Concetta McCallum, were visibly moved when members from all three generations of players gathered to honour their husband and dad, who passed away last January.
“He loved those guys,” said Mary, during the casual barbecue tribute held at C. E Grose Park last Sunday.
Brian McCallum said he belongs to the middle of the three generations that were coached by Fiorillo.
“Archie was a father figure for all of us,” he said, adding that he met Concetta Fiorillo—now his wife—through the Thorold Soccer Club.
“He was a staunch supporter of tucking in your shirts before the game,” McCallum mused. “We had to look like a team.”
Fiorillo, along with Domenic Rossetto and Dan Giancola Sr., co-founded the Thorold Soccer Club, and the park became a second home, where players were treated like extended family, and learned not only soccer skills, but valuable life lessons as well.
“My dad has created this wonderful group of guys and just by the sheer numbers of players from the past, it’s a wonderful tribute to my father,” said Joanne Volz, “and a pretty good example of what he meant to them, and what they meant to him. He talked about each one of them and their value. This is really a family.”
“Any hour of the day or night, there could’ve been a knock at the door, and I saw my parents affecting people’s lives,” continued Volz. “If they had a problem, my parents were there. You don’t know the impact of somebody’s life until they’re gone but it really makes you appreciate what you have, and it really makes you think about the person you should be, and could be.”
Volz earned countless trophies as a member of the first women’s soccer club in Thorold in the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing from ages 13 through 22, and eventually, at the University of Toronto.
“Back then, women’s soccer was not too popular and we had a great group,” she recalled. “Soccer was my life, my whole social network. My parents were proud of us, and picked up the girls whose parents didn’t drive. We lived and ate and breathed soccer. We all liked each other, worked for each other; wanted to be something together. We were proud of ourselves; we were proud of Thorold.”
While Ann Marie Tirabassi was never coached by Archie personally, his quiet, caring manner affected her profoundly .
“Playing soccer in Thorold and all those involved, especially Archie, have had a major impact on my life, and by far" make up "my greatest childhood memories that I still cherish,” she told ThoroldNews.
“As a sport, soccer is and always will be my true love. Without a doubt, playing soccer in Thorold throughout my youth has taught me all the important life lessons that are gained by any team sport—sportsmanship, teamwork, life-long friendship, commitment; time management, to name a few. I only wish I had the great fortune of being coached by Archie and I will forever be grateful for his commitment to the Thorold Soccer Club and for his part in starting up and unconditionally supporting and encouraging girls’ soccer at a time, merely a generation ago, when girls like myself could only dream of making it to the big leagues. Whenever and wherever I’d bump into Archie and Mary, they would both stop and with the warmest of greetings, they would take the time to talk and catch up.”
Tirabassi said she’s grateful to the Fiorillos “not only for genuinely caring about me and my family, but I also always had a sense that there was more. I felt at the heart of it all there was and always will be that connection, not only for the love of soccer but that we belong to something bigger, something that is intangible, but definitely more meaningful than playing the sport itself. Forever in our hearts he will be Thorold’s Prince Archie.”